Monday, February 02, 2015

Penny Thoughts ‘15—Groundhog Day (1993) ***½

PG, 101 min.
Director: Harold Ramis
Writers: Danny Rubin, Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray, Marita Geraghty, Angela Paton

So the time has come once again for us all to have our annual existential comedy experience and relive the same day over and over until we get it right. Perhaps we could all use the unexplained peril of Bill Murray’s self-centered hero from one of the unlikeliest of cinematic comedy successes of all time. “Groundhog Day” was released in February of 1993 to a Valentine’s Day crowd most likely expecting nothing more than another romantic comedy that seemed slightly off target release date wise considering it was the wrong holiday by a couple weeks. Instead they got a comedy with a brain that really wanted to tackle the deep issues that lay at the core of its otherwise silly premise.

Honestly, I always felt the movie could’ve been a little bit funnier. Some of the issues they’re dealing with are pretty heavy, however. When Murray drives off the cliff with the groundhog, it’s hard to get past the fact that suicide is a very unfunny subject. Luckily Chris Elliott chimes in with a perfectly timed punchline, “He… might be OK.”

Whether it could be funnier or not, it is a deep comedy that has much more value than you average romantic comedy. I’ve noticed that lately many Christian websites have been using it as an example of a good Christian message, and they’re not wrong. Of course, it isn’t a Christian production and has a good lesson for life no matter what your religion. He finally gets it right, not when he woos Andie MacDowell properly, but once he finally lives a totally selfless day. The filmmakers do a great job of making sure that is the emphasis rather than the typical Hollywood formula of the guy gets the girl, although he does. It’s also important to note that along with the woman he also now loves this town that he hated so much at the beginning of the movie. And of course, Punxsutawney, PA is really a metaphor for all of life. Although, Groundhog Day is hardly one of those classic family holidays, “Groundhog Day” is one of those movies that deserves to be watched on a regular basis like so many of those other holiday movies.

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